A NEW vision for forests aims to begin new planting in derelict and rundown areas of Glasgow and the Clyde Valley as part of a bid to increase Scotland's woodland cover by more than 50%.

Over a period of 25 years, the woodland strategy will expand woodlands in areas and breathe new life into existing ones, resulting in more trees around towns and villages, especially in post-industrial areas.

The urban woods project is part of a forestry strategy that aims to increase the percentage of Scotland covered by woodland from 17% to 25% allowing for cuts in carbon emissions.

The strategy was launched in Castlemilk where underused areas have already been regenerated to provide what is described as "opportunities for social, economic and environmental improvements".

Castlemilk Park is a wood which stretches from Croftfoot Road to Ardencraig Road, and was once regarded as underused and associated locally with antisocial behaviour.

Environment and Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said during a visit to Castlemilk Community Woodlands: "Glasgow and the Clyde Valley has a valuable woodland resource to tap into and this strategy gives a clear direction on how we should develop this wonderful natural asset over the next 25 years.

"We need to expand and manage our woodlands in a sensitive manner and make sure they work hard to prove benefits for local people, business and the environment."

The minister praised the project for providing employment training and educational purposes for children about woodland areas.

In partnership with Cassiltoun Housing Association, Forestry Commission Scotland has funded a full-time community woodland officer in Castlemilk who has improved access to the site and laid on activities and events.

Richard Bolton, community woodland officer at Castlemilk, said: "The woodland runs right through the heart of Castlemilk and for many local residents it is a very special place.

"It forms an important part of their daily life. It is a route to local schools and shops, a place for walking or to play or discover rich flora and fauna. For others it's simply a place full of their childhood memories.

"I'm really pleased that the great community work we are doing here is helping bring the strategy to life."

It is hoped the strategy will give better access to woodlands for communities, the development of woodland businesses and the "linking up of important environmental habitats".